Category: Learning Exceptionalities

We’re Hiring! Subject Matter Experts, June and July 2017

We’re growing fast, and we need expert insight to make the highest quality parent support tools possible.

As a Subject Matter Expert, you enable the expansion of our first parent support tool – already available to parents – which focuses on children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

This role is a part-time contract. Remote workers are ideal.

You will be creating content for our parent support tool. Content includes:

  • Comprehensive list of descriptive characteristics by exceptionality
  • Potential developmental goals appropriate for different ages and abilities
  • Potential accommodations, therapeutic supports and other school supports relevant to the exceptionality

 

For June and July 2017, we are looking for Subject Matter Experts in the following exceptionalities:

  • Sensory Processing Disorder
  • Dyslexia
  • Dysgraphia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Auditory Processing Disorder
  • Speech and Language Impairment
  • ADHD

Experience and Qualifications

  • A bachelor’s degree required, preferably in the fields of special education, childhood development, or closely related area
  • A master’s degree highly desired, preferably in the fields of special education, childhood development, or closely related area
  • 5 years or more experience working directly with exceptional children in educational settings
  • 5 years or more experience supporting parents directly highly desired
  • A spike in expertise for one of the aforementioned exceptionalities as evidenced by your trainings, education and work history
  • Exceptional written and spoken communication skills
  • An ability to thrive fast paced, deadline driven environments
  • An ability to thrive in both independent and collaborative work settings; you’ll be working with a remote team via shared documents, phone calls and videoconferences while also creating content on your own.

Compensation

  • Salary range between $75 and $95 dollars an hour
  • You will be compensated as an independent contractor, with income reported on a 1099-MISC.
  • This is a part time, contract-based role.

Interested in applying? Send your resume and cover letter to hiring@growexceptionally.com.

ExceptionALLY Testimonials

At ExceptionALLY, we love talking to parents of children with unique needs. Seriously, we can’t get enough. Parent conversations keep us connected to the families we support. This connection is essential to our mission.

In the last few months since we’ve launched our support tool (geared toward parents raising children with Autism Spectrum Disorder), we’ve had a lot of these conversations! We’ve received lots of helpful feedback and several encouraging remarks as well. Here are a few testimonials from parents, educators and supporters.

 

“This tool is wonderful. I like the way it’s broken down – very understandable for parents, staff and teachers.” – mother of a 14-year-old son with ASD

“Excellent concept… I’ve not seen anything like this out there anywhere else.” – special education lawyer

“This tool gives the parent a voice. Otherwise, you’re relying on the schools, and they’re trying to individualize the plans, but they don’t know your kid like you do.” – father of a 5 year old son with ASD

“Brilliant. This tool is so smart. Is it available in Spanish, too?” – special educator in Colorado

“I would love to see this expanded for students with SLD.” – former elementary school principal

“This tool completely turned around the tone of the IEP meeting.” – grandmother to a 8 year old boy with ASD

 

We love to hear how our tool is helping families, and we’re not done yet! We won’t stop until all parents have the knowledge and know-how they need to help their exceptional kids thrive.

 

 

How to Find a Special Education Advocate

You don’t have to face your child’s IEP team alone.

Many parents understand the purpose of a lawyer in the IEP process. If your rights have been violated, and you’re pursuing legal action or a due process hearing, you’re wise to call an attorney.

But what if you’re not sure whether you need legal action? What if you’d like to pursue all other solutions before heading down that path? Or if you’d just like an expert second opinion on your child’s IEP? A non-legal advocate may be the right choice.

An advocate is expert in the laws and policies that concern your child’s education. They also know a lot about different exceptionalities and the learning challenges children like yours face in school.

In this article, the experts at Wrightslaw give advice about how to find an advocate. Here are some other tips to consider.

  • Make use of online directories to locate advocates in your state. Wrightslaw has the Yellow Pages for Kids, and COPAA (the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates) has its own resource list.
  • Don’t be afraid to Google. Some advocates aren’t listed on the directories above.
  • Ask around. Other parents in your area or district may have a great recommendation, and several advocates don’t have websites; they rely on word-of-mouth to meet new families.
  • Call them up. Most advocates will give families a free phone consultation. This lets everyone get to know each other for a bit before moving forward.
  • Ask a lot of questions. Not all advocates have the expertise you need, so don’t be bashful. Ask about their backgrounds, their training, their experience, and which exceptionalities they know best.
  • Look for a collaborative spirit. It’s not always possible, but the best advocates try hard to find common ground and get what’s best for your child through collaborating with the full IEP team.

What other tips do you have about finding and working with great advocates? Let us know in the comments.

 

Taking Time for Yourself: Dream or Reality?

At ExceptionALLY, our mission is to offer meaningful support to parents of exceptional children. We spoke with hundreds of parents to learn what it’s like to raise their children with special needs. Every child is unique, and so is every family, but some consistent themes came out of our conversations.

A few consistent truths:

  • It’s easy to feel isolated and alone.
  • The burden is on the entire family, and there’s no end in sight.
  • Raising a child with special needs is usually utterly exhausting.

This article from Autism Parents Magazine gives six ideas for reducing stress and gaining clarity. Their suggestions (such as taking a walk or reading a book) sound like great pieces of advice for any busy parent, let alone a parent who’s balancing the needs of a child on the autism spectrum.

But I have to wonder – are steps like these enough to make a dent in the everyday stress of an autism parent? Can 30 minute powernaps chip away at the endless fatigue? And what about the parents who can’t find time for even these simple actions due to the many demands on their time?

Many parents we spoke with were doing all they could just to keep their heads above water. A 30-minute solo walk is an indulgence they can’t afford thanks to work schedules, lack of child care and other conflicting needs. They’d love to practice self-care but simply can’t due to lack of support, finances and time.

Like so many aspects of special needs parenting, this topic leaves me wishing I had a magic wand, one that could offer rest, respite and rejuvenation.

For all the moms, dads and caregivers out there needing a little magic, your struggles are real, and you are not invisible.

Do you have a self-care strategy (magic wand not necessary) to share with fellow parents? Share it in the comments.

 

 

Private School Vouchers: Two Sides to Every Coin

Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, wants to increase private school vouchers for families of children with special needs. A voucher is government money that’s given to a family to use towards tuition at a private school if they believe it can offer a better education for their child.

On one hand, many families are happy with vouchers because they have more options. If your child’s public school can’t offer the trained professionals, high quality curriculum or learning environment your unique child needs, then a voucher can help your family pay tuition at a private school that can. Many families could not afford private tuition on their own, so these vouchers/scholarship programs make private school possible.

On the other hand, there are hidden costs and consequences. This article explains how many families are surprised with extra fines and tuition beyond what the scholarship covers. What’s more, once you accept the scholarship/tuition voucher, you may be giving up any rights and protections your child had under the federal IDEA law – the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. If the private school expels your student or doesn’t give them individualized instruction, you no longer have protections under the law that once protected your child.

Ten states already have scholarship/voucher programs in place. 30,000 children currently use a voucher.

  • If vouchers become the norm, what will become of IDEA and the rights it gives kids with special needs?
  • Will public schools start to encourage vouchers to avoid the challenges (and high costs) of educating exceptional children?
  • Are there enough high-quality private schools who are willing, and able, to educate these diverse learners?

With so many unanswered questions, it’s easy to see why this hot topic pushes a lot of buttons.

What scares you, and excites you, about the potential of increased voucher programs?